Three free nights and solid perks: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card overview
Even if you aren’t a Marriott loyalist, it may be worth seriously considering the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card while it has a welcome offer of three free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Marriott offers a diverse credit card portfolio issued by both Chase and American Express. However, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card from Chase is the only entry-level, mid-market personal Marriott Bonvoy card available to new applicants.
The Bonvoy Boundless card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 3 free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 in your first 3 months. This is more than enough points to kick-start a great vacation. But the welcome offer isn’t the only reason to consider the Bonvoy Boundless card — this card is also great for its ongoing benefits.
For example, TPG’s Katie Genter added the Bonvoy Boundless card to her wallet in a push to earn Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status using the card’s 15 elite night credits. So, let’s take a closer look at whether or not the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless deserves a spot in your wallet.
Application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card with a welcome offer of three free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening.
Who is this card for?
Although the current offer on the Bonvoy Boundless card is enticing, according to Chase’s 5/24 rule, the issuer won’t approve you for the card if you’ve opened five or more credit cards across all issuers in the last 24 months.
So, you aren’t just picking the Bonvoy Boundless card if you decide to apply. Instead, you’re potentially choosing the Bonvoy Boundless over another Chase card if you like to apply for multiple rewards cards per year. Therefore, you should have somewhat of a plan for how you’re going to use the card and its welcome offer before you apply.
If you’re a Bonvoy Platinum Elite or higher, this bonus can get you much more value, though. After all, as a high-level elite, your nights will come with perks such as suite upgrades and free breakfast.
Welcome offer: Estimated $1,200 value
Now, let’s consider the most exciting part of any new credit card: the welcome offer.
Right now, new applicants will earn free nights that are the equivalent of up to 150,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months from account opening. Based on TPG’s valuation of Marriott points at 0.8 cents each, this bonus is worth up to $1,200.
Of course, these free-night certificates are not exactly the same as 150,000 points. Since each one can only cover a single night at up to 50,000 points, you can’t use them for two nights at 75,000 points per night, nor can you combine them for an even more luxurious award stay.
In addition, Marriott recently shifted to a dynamic pricing model for award stays, so you may have a harder time finding properties that price at 50,000 points. However, it will be keeping 97% of hotels within their previous off-peak to peak pricing bands through the end of 2022, and there are plans to add the ability to top-off these free-night awards with points in the near future.
Main benefits and perks
The Bonvoy Boundless comes with a $95 annual fee, but it should be easy to get several hundred dollars’ worth out of the card’s perks. In fact, of all the travel credit cards I carry, it’s easiest for me to justify paying an annual fee on my Bonvoy cards, including the Bonvoy Boundless.
So, let’s take a closer look at the Bonvoy Boundless card perks.
Anniversary free-night award
Each year on account renewal, you’ll receive a reward night certificate valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points a night.
TPG’s valuations peg the value of 35,000 Marriott points at $280, nearly three times the $95 annual fee. But, it’s possible to get even more value if you’re selective about redeeming your reward night.
However, even if you redeem your reward night certificate for a lower value, you should have no trouble recouping your entire annual fee from this perk alone. For example, I’ve redeemed 35,000-point reward night certificates for two nights at the W Atlanta Buckhead ($230 cash value per night) and three nights at the Westin Savannah ($255 per night). I managed to cover my annual fee and get more than $100 in excess value from the reward night certificate in each case.
Note that this may get more challenging with the recent shift to dynamic pricing — though Marriott will soon allow members to supplement their 35,000-point certificates with up to 15,000 points in order to confirm a property that would otherwise be outside of the allowable range.
Automatic Silver Elite status
Silver Elite status with Marriott won’t get you posh penthouse suites, but it’s better than nothing. In addition, silver Elite members will get a 10% points bonus, late checkout, and free Wi-Fi.
The Bonvoy Boundless also offers a path to Gold Elite status by spending $35,000 on purchases each account year. However, you’ll usually be better off earning higher status organically via the Boundless’ 15 elite night credit as well as some stays booked directly with Marriott, as I’ll discuss in the next section. And, if you want a card that provides complimentary Gold Elite status with Marriott, you should consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (enrollment required).
As of earlier this year, you’ll also get one credit toward elite status for every $5,000 you spend, so this could be another pathway toward higher status.
15 elite night credits annually
Many Bonvoy credit cards share this benefit. But, this perk can be immensely valuable if you’re aiming for a higher tier of status with Marriott Bonvoy.
You can get one set of elite night credits from a Marriott personal card and one more set of elite night credits from a Marriott business card. So, with the Bonvoy Boundless, you’d only need to stay 35 nights (instead of 50) to earn Platinum Elite status. And, if you have the Bonvoy Boundless and a Marriott business card like the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, you can get 30 elite night credits each year just from credit cards.
Together, the above benefits represent a few hundred dollars in value each year and easily outstrip the $95 annual fee. But, the card also offers a few other perks:
- Baggage delay insurance: If a passenger carrier delays your baggage for over six hours, Chase may reimburse you for essential purchases up to $100 a day for five days.
- Lost luggage reimbursement: If a passenger carrier damages or loses your check or carry on luggage, Chase may reimburse you up to $3,000 per passenger.
- Trip delay reimbursement: If you are delayed by more than 12 hours or required to stay overnight when traveling by a common carrier, Chase may reimburse you for select, otherwise unreimbursed expenses up to $500 per ticket.
- Purchase protection: Chase covers most new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $500 per claim (capped at $50,000 per account).
- No foreign transaction fees.
How to earn points
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card earns 6 points per dollar on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program and 2 points per dollar on all other purchases. Based on TPG’s valuations, this results in a 4.8% return on Marriott purchases and 1.6% everywhere else.
On paper, you can do better using the Chase Sapphire Reserve for Marriott stays. After all, the Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar (for a 6% return based on TPG’s valuations) on all travel.
But, you have to consider the value you can get from your Marriott points. As I mentioned before, Platinum and Titanium Elites get a much better return on their award redemptions thanks to a great set of elite benefits. So, I pay for all my Marriott stays with a Bonvoy credit card to earn 6 points per dollar.
How to redeem points
When it comes to maximizing your Marriott redemptions, there are a few strategies to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to take advantage of the fifth reward night on award stays perk whenever possible. The fifth award night benefit is an easy way to get up to a 20% discount and stretch your points.
I prefer to use my Marriott points for hotel stays, but Marriott also has 40+ airline transfer partners. So if you’re going to transfer Marriott points to an airline, you could use this opportunity to top up on some otherwise hard-to-earn mileage currencies.
Alaska Airlines, Korean Air, and Japan Airlines are three fantastic examples of highly flexible and valuable miles that are hard to earn any other way. In fact, one of my favorite redemptions to date was transferring 195,000 Marriott points to 80,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles to book a first-class seat in the nose of the Korean Air’s Boeing 747-8.
Points transfer to most airlines at a 3:1 ratio with 5,000-mile bonuses for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred. So, transferring 60,000 Marriott points to Alaska Airlines, for example, would net you 25,000 miles. However, note that most transfers take at least a few days. So, if award availability is scarce, the award you want to book may be gone by the time the transfer completes.
Which cards compete with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless?
The first lesson you learn when building a credit card strategy is how sacred your 5/24 slots with Chase are.
So, if you don’t have one already, you should strongly consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card first. You’ll pay the same $95 annual fee as the Bonvoy Boundless and you’ll get a valuable sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
TPG values this bonus at $1,600 thanks to its immense flexibility; you can transfer those points to any of Chase’s three hotels and 10 airline transfer partners, including Marriott Bonvoy. And, you’ll continue to rack up points at a fast clip with 2 points per dollar on travel and 3 points per dollar on dining.
Even if you decide to add a Marriott Bonvoy card to your wallet, the Boundless Card might not always be the best option. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card carries a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees), but it can quickly pay for itself. After all, you’ll get an annual Marriott statement credit of up to $300 (each card membership year for use at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program), which effectively drops your out-of-pocket cost to $150.
Plus, the annual reward night with the Brilliant card is valid at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program costing up to 50,000 points a night, literally one-upping the level of luxury you can experience. Likewise, instead of Silver Elite status, you get complimentary Gold Elite status and the chance to upgrade to Platinum by spending $75,000 a year.
Finally, the welcome bonus on the Brilliant outshines the Boundless, as new cardholders will earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after making $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card is in an interesting spot. One of two entry-level consumer credit cards in the Bonvoy program (the no-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card is the other), the Boundless is the logical first choice for many Marriott travelers. But strict bonus restrictions and fierce competition from other Chase cards mean you should think hard before applying.
Still, if you’ve already built out your Chase trifecta and confirmed that you are eligible for this bonus, the Bonvoy Boundless can be an excellent addition to a wallet. I have no trouble getting $250-$300 of value out of my anniversary reward night certificate alone, and if I can get that sort of return on a $95 investment each year, it’s an easy win.
Plus, the current welcome offer is a great way to boost your Marriott balance, just in time for summer travel.
Official application link: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card with a welcome bonus of three free night awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from your account opening.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, click here.
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Stella Shon, Chris Dong, and Christina Ly.
Featured photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!